Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Super Reading! Action Comics #1003 (2018)

The Invisible Mafia - Part 3

Script - Brian Michael Bendis
Art - Yanick Paquette
Colors - Nathan Fairbank
Letters - Josh Reed
Cover (main) - Patrick Gleason & Brad Anderson/ Cover (variant) - Francis Manapul
Associate Editor - Jessica Chen
Editor - Michael Cotton
Group Editor -  Brian Cunningham

We all need magnifying glasses to read the mysterious, messy desktop opening pages of each issue of Action Comics.  Issue #1003 opens on the controlled chaos of Perry White's editorial desk, rife with Easter eggs and inside jokes, and moves on to Robinson Goode at a buy for some Kryptonite in the backroom of one of Metropolis's many seedy bars where toughs wallow away their sorrows and try not to think too much about how hard it is to be a crook in a town with Superman.

Back at The Daily Planet (something I am delighted to type each issue) Clark arrives at his desk to find Jimmy sleeping at his desk, waiting to chat with him about something at S.T.A.R. Labs when - arriving with the Kryptonite tucked in her purse, Robinson Goode arrives to work.  Clark is felled, of course, claiming bad seafood, but as Goode leaves again with the rock, he recovers.

Later - Goode finds herself face-to-face with Batman, who takes the kryptonite from her - Batman's attempts to learn more going nowhere.  Goode returns to the woman who sold her the rock, believing she'd blabbed - and the mysterious red cloud of death appears, killing the dealer just as Superman arrives on the scene.

And the mystery of what is going on with Lois deepens with the arrival of an old pal.

Both Superman and Action are in slow burn mode, especially as each title is now only arriving once per month.  The mystery is unfolding slowly, but satisfactorily - and I'm still off-kilter as to what Robinson Goode is actually up to.

As DC has done on Batman of late - they're also bringing the A-List talent over to the Superman titles.  While I'd love for an artist to provide a complete arc - that's not something I expect to occur anymore except on indie books or mini-series/ labors of love like Mister Miracle where the comic is completely co-created by the scripting and art team.  So if we have to get someone new in on art chores, you can't complain about Paquette.  I won't say he's doing anything particularly *new* here, but he also isn't messing around when it comes to design, backgrounds, and solid interpretations of characters that do seem to carry over from Gleason's work but remain Paquette's own.  And something about the final pages, both Superman appearing in the bar backroom after Candy has gone on to her final reward and the Lois pages, just struck as gorgeous work.

Per the mysteries - I'm wondering how long other readers will stick around if a few things don't start to reveal themselves or we don't get to a turning point in our story structure.  So far it's all been "let's learn and learn about what's going on" - but something else needs to happen, or I fear the story will feel like it has no momentum - what with us readers having no idea how many issues this will all go on.  When I post on Heroes in Crisis 1, I'll discuss more about why I'm talking about this concern - but for me, I'm willing to hang in there (enthusiastically!) until I'm given a reason not to do so.

I am relieved and thrilled that an appearance by Batman did not result in Superman getting yelled at by Batman for not being edgy enough.  I simply hope that trend is a thing of the past.  We can have characters (and, indeed, people in real life) with whom we don't agree on everything and not make it about dressing each other down.  That @#$% was so tired.

As an aside - one of the things I've often found with writers who have no feeling for Superman as a character has been not just that they avoid The Daily Planet, but that they give Superman no one to talk to.  This has been solved in recent years with what I'll argue has been over-dependency on domestic scenes with Lois and Clark where they turn over an issue.  Why they couldn't - as a team - spitball issues with the Planet staff, I never knew.  But by removing Lois from the picture, we at least get back to Clark worrying about his secret identity as part of the story.  Not that this is a longterm solution, but it does allow for Clark Kent to walk among regular people again and for it not to feel like everything he does is separated from humanity.  And that's not a bad thing.

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